From the minds of a World War I veteran with PTSD and a small child comes Winnie-the-Pooh, a birth not without consequences. How does a child understand when the world takes possession of his “toys?” How does a child understand the attention the world demands of a favorite “real” character? How does a child understand the frailties of his parents when they try to protect him by sending him away?
A. A. Milne has returned from the war a broken man. His wife, Daphne, clearly deeply affected by his absence, demands normalcy and a return to his writing. Olive is hired as a Nanny for young Christopher and sees to his care as his parents are struggling with their own problems. When Olive’s mother becomes ill and Daphne is busy being a socialite in London, A.A. is forced to care for his son. Their walks through the woods and making crafts become the genesis for the Pooh characters.
A.A. Milne is played by Domhnall Gleeson and turns in a fine performance. After seeing her as Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie is an interesting choice as Daphne. A cynic might suggest that she was cast solely for commercial purposes. Kelly Macdonald, recently of Boardwalk Empire, was an excellent choice as Olive. The real star of the movie is Will Tilston as young Christopher Robin, very good at showing the joys and pains of childhood.
Although the movie has some surprises at the end, this is not a Disney happily-ever-after movie. History vs Hollywood seems to suggest that some of the family issues were likely exaggerated. Still, on the fun-meter, this movie ranks low. As a true story, despite all its warts, it is an interesting one. We all want to know how a beloved character comes to life. This gives you insight while contrasting the innocence of Pooh with the harsh realities of life. It is a trip worth taking.